Merkel in Beirut on Thursday to Discuss Economic Files, Displaced Syrians

Merkel in Beirut on Thursday to Discuss Economic Files, Displaced Syrians

Tuesday, 19 June, 2018 - 12:15
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Reuters)
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Beirut on Thursday at the head of an economic delegation to meet with Lebanese officials and discuss economic issues and the controversy over the return of the displaced Syrians to their country.

Official sources said that Merkel’s visit would focus on three main topics: the political situation, the economic sector and regional files.

Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri’s advisor, Nadim al-Munla, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the German chancellor would review with Lebanese officials means to bolster bilateral relations and the contribution of the German private sector in reconstruction and infrastructure projects in wake of the Cedre donor conference.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mohammed Shukair, underlined the importance of the visit. He called for the need to take advantage of the international interest in Lebanon and to speed up the formation of the government to launch the implementation of projects pledged by Lebanon at international conferences.

Official sources told Asharq Al-Awsat said that Merkel would first meet with Hariri, then with President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri.

An economic gathering will take place at the Grand Serail on Friday morning in the presence of the German economic delegation and a group of Lebanese businessmen and economic experts, following which Merkel and Hariri will hold a joint press conference.

The sources said that the German chancellor’s meeting with Aoun would touch on the return of the displaced Syrians to their homeland, whereas the president would urge Merkel to support the return of Syrians to safe areas as soon as possible, taking into consideration the increasing social and economic burdens borne by Lebanon.

Economic relations between Berlin and Beirut cover several sectors. The Lebanese community in Germany is the largest among western countries, with an estimated 114,0000 Lebanese according to the German Federal Statistics Office.

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